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University of Phoenix Supports Fresh Start Women’s Foundation Annual Fundraising Gala

By Michele Mitchum

The flagship event benefits Arizona women on the path to self-sufficiency 

University of Phoenix is proud to share its support of the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation annual gala as a platinum sponsor. The event took place at The Phoenician Resort on Saturday, March 23, and raised more than $2.7 million to support Arizona women on the path to wellness and self-sufficiency. Members of University of Phoenix’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), Phoenix Women Rising, attended the event in support of the nonprofit foundation. A pillar in the Phoenix community for over 30 years, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation transforms lives by providing access to comprehensive resources that help women thrive.

“It is an honor to attend this event and support the important work of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation," shared University of Phoenix Strategic Integration Manager and Director of Purchasing for Phoenix Women Rising, Laura Schonberger. "The impact Fresh Start has, particularly in transforming the lives of women, holds a special place in our hearts because it is all about empowering women to rise above the challenges they face. I am proud of the support demonstrated by University of Phoenix and Phoenix Women Rising, and grateful for the chance to share our deep dedication to women in the community.”

Phoenix Women Rising is one of five ERGs at University of Phoenix established by unanimous agreement of the Executive team. The ERGs were implemented in 2016 to provide safe spaces for employees with diverse experiences to leverage avenues for networking, mentorship, and career opportunities, and have been embraced by employees to enhance their experience at the University. The University ERGs engage in community-building activities, mentoring and networking across departments and with external organizations and nonprofits.

Each ERG has its own mission and vision, unique to the population it seeks to serve. The Phoenix Women Rising ERG aims to provide resources that empower women to rise through education, advocacy, personal and professional development, and leadership opportunities. Phoenix Women Rising has supported several Fresh Start initiatives, including serving as volunteers during fundraising events, volunteering time at the nonprofit, and assisting with career-readiness workshops where participants receive support with resume preparation and interview coaching.

“We are so grateful for University of Phoenix’s support at Fresh Start’s 2024 Gala and the engagement of their Phoenix Women Rising employee group,” said Fresh Start’s President and CEO Kim McWaters. “Through the generosity of partners like University of Phoenix, Fresh Start is able to support and empower more than 4,000 women a year, and offer them life-changing access and resources toward self-sufficiency and success. This critical support not only helps women transform their own lives, but positively impacts their children’s lives and generations to come."

University of Phoenix Creative Content Developer and Phoenix Women Rising member Karla Soto says the event was indeed an impactful experience. “Attending the gala was more than just inspiring; it was transformative,” she reflects. “Witnessing the immense need within our community and hearing stories of women who’ve transformed their lives with the support provided by Fresh Start, I couldn't help but ponder my own capacity to give back. The generosity displayed by fellow guests fueled a deep sense of motivation within me to find even more ways to give back and to support our community.”

University of Phoenix’s sponsorship of the event is a natural extension of the University’s deep-rooted commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). This commitment is evident through philanthropic efforts and community-focused initiatives that prioritize education, advocate for social justice, and champion philanthropy with a career support focus. This ethos forms an integral part of the University's dedication to fostering a culture of community involvement, empowering faculty and staff to volunteer with organizations such as the Arizona Foundation for Women, Jobs for the Future, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Give an Hour, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. These partnerships underscore the university's commitment to uplifting underserved communities and fostering equitable conditions.

Learn more here about University of Phoenix’s collective efforts in fortifying the communities we serve.

About Fresh Start Women's Foundation

Fresh Start’s mission is to provide access and resources that help women achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive. Our ultimate vision is to create unlimited opportunities for women. Over three decades, Fresh Start has supported more than 55,000 Arizona women, serving approximately 4,000 women each year, who are 18 years and older. 86% are mothers, 60% are single mothers and 64% are women of color. These women face a variety of barriers hindering their ability to be personally or financially self-sufficient, including domestic violence, generational poverty, and unemployment. Through our award-winning Impact Program, Fresh Start offers focused programs, services, access to training and education, as well as employment and career services to help women reach their personal and professional goals. For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit